Hawk Pursuit

Juvenile Cooper’s hawk (Accipiter cooperii)

Dart and I inadvertently seem to have interrupted a hawk pursuit. Dart likes to play with his flying disk. It’s technically not a frisbee, but we call it one. If you say “frisbee” to Dart, he goes nuts and starts running around in circles as he is trying to get outside. When he was young, he would catch the disk until he dropped dead. We had to be the ones smart enough to stop the game because he would never give up. He is older now and his desire to play exceeds his ability by leaps and bounds. Once I get out and toss the disk, he often doesn’t bother to chase it. Dart is more enthusiastic about playing with Regis. I thinks its because Regis claps and hoots and hollers when he catches it and Dart loves an audience. Dart may catch the disk twice or three times for Regis.

I took Dart out to play with his disk and tossed it into the yard and Dart stood in one spot. But, a juvenile Cooper’s hawk landed on the fence and started watching me and tweeting at me. That’s the first time I heard a hawk tweet. We stared at each other until it flew up by the side of the house but I didn’t see it rise above the roof. I went to the side of the house to investigate and found the hawk perched on the roof above a tree we have that just reaches the height of our one story house. At this point, I noticed a bird hidden in the tree. I am certain the hawk wanted that bird. The bird was panting in the heat. At first I thought the bird was severely wounded and after carefully getting a closer look without startling the bird out into the open, I saw that it was a male red-winged blackbird.

The hawk got tired of waiting for me to leave and flew into a tree behind our house and I went in for the camera. It was still there when I returned and I was able to get a few images. It gave up on me and flew through the trees proving itself to be a Cooper’s hawk. Cooper’s hawk are accipiters which are long-tailed agile hawks that deftly fly through the woods. Cooper’s hawks and sharp-shinned hawks look similar, but sharp-shinned hawks are usually smaller. Although, a large female sharp-shinned hawk can be the size of a small Cooper’s hawk. Based on the size, I was pretty sure it was a Copper’s hawk but was able to verify when looking at the images because a Cooper’s hawk has a more rounded tail than the sharp-shinned. Because the bird had a brown chest and a streaked back, I could tell it was a juvenile. Adults have a gray back and pale reddish chest.

After the hawk left, I checked on the red-winged blackbird and he wasn’t leaving that tree. I checked back about an hour later and again two hours later and he was still in the tree. On the next check, he was gone. I am sure he is suffering from post traumatic stress disorder.

Juvenile Cooper’s hawk hoping I will leave so it can continue to pursue a red-winged blackbird it was after. My presence forced the hawk to find a meal elsewhere and the potential red-winged blackbird victim lived through the experience.

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